paperless mail plastic free

Switch to Paperless Mail

Have you considered making the switch to paperless mail yet? There’s no need to be bombarded with junk mail that you don’t have any use for. In fact, it’s just creating more waste. 

Why make the switch?

There are two types of mail: the kind you actually need, use, and open – and junk mail. It may seem inconsequential, but all of the junk mail you receive adds up. What is a slight inconvenience for each singular person is actually a global issue. According to Heal the Planet, 33% of mail worldwide is junk mail. That’s right – one-third of all mail across the globe is spam. Additionally, 51 million tonnes of greenhouse gases are produced as a result of that junk mail. To put that into context, that is the equivalent of 9 million passenger cars. An estimated 100 million trees are used each year for junk mail alone. Global deforestation is a leading contributor to global warming, responsible for 20% of all carbon emissions. 

Envelopes are made of paper and plastic. The main part of the envelope is paper, while the window that displays your name and address is made of plastic. In most places, this envelope can be recycled, though there are varying rules on whether the plastic window must be removed. The problem is that this piece of paper and plastic has been created with the intention of getting a single use before being thrown out. This is entirely unnecessary now that we have paperless mail. 

How to switch to paperless mail

For mail that you do actually want – bills, payments, adverts, etc – contact the sender. You’ll be surprised how many utility companies actually offer a paperless mail discount. This can typically be done via their website and your account settings and preferences. If you get paid by your employer with a physical cheque in the mail, try speaking with your manager or HR department. If they don’t already have an electronic system, employee interest may push them to look into it.

While some people put a simple “no junk mail” sign on their door, this doesn’t exactly solve the issue. The mail will still be produced with your name on it, and eventually be thrown out at some point. In the UK, there are several better options:

  • Register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS). When you register with MPS, you can have your name removed from mailing lists. 
  • Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s “Your Choice” scheme, which will help you opt-out of junk mail. 
  • Contact the sender directly, including your full name, address, a date for when you expect to stop receiving mail, and this statement: “Please stop processing my personal data for direct marketing purposes in accordance with Article 21 of the General Data Protection Regulations.”
  • Citizen’s Advice goes through the simple process of contacting Royal Mail to stop delivering leaflets and pamphlets.
  • To avoid future junk mail, make sure to review all forms for any tick-boxes that say that you give permission for third parties to contact you.

If you’re looking for another simple way to decrease your environmental footprint, read our blog on declining receipts. Spoiler alert: there’s plastic in receipts, too.

Mia Hadrill

hello@aimplasticfree.com
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